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University of California Berkeley 



Machine Smasher, Constructive Statesman 


"We have nominated the only type of man 
who ever ought to be nominated for the Vice- 
Presidency; we have nominated a man fit at the 
moment to be President of the United States." 

Theodore Roosevelt. 

Hiram W. Johnson, the Fighting Governor 

of California, Who Has Waged a Long 

and Winning War Against 

Political Corruption 

In barely two years to have set a new mark, first as a fight- 
ing machine smasher, then as a constructive statesman, and fin- 
ally as an overshadowing national personality this is the unique 
record of Hiram W. Johnson, Governor of California and Pro- 
gressive nominee for Vice-President of the United States. 

For forty years prior to Hiram Johnson's now famous cru- 
sade, the ostensibly self-governing State of California had actu- 
ally been ruled by the political bureau of a private corporation, 
the Southern Pacific Railway Company. This bureau was the 
originator in the United States of the so-called "system," the 
partnership between politically-privileged business and commer- 
cially-subsidized politics. 

Built by the Government, endowed with huge land grants 
and capitalized by Government guarantees, the Pacific railroads 
were in politics from the beginning; first to get these privileges, 
and afterward to escape the obligations that these privileges im- 

Their example called into being similar machines in other 
States. Their land lobby, long maintained at Washington, first 
established land-grabbing on a national scale. 

In California, they maintained the whole political organiza- 
tion of the State. Their salaried agents openly sat on the floor 
of the Legislature, and frankly dictated legislation. They domi- 
nated political conventions and controlled nominations, includ- 
ing, in fact, especially judges. The recognized avenue to politi- 
cal preferment was the favor of the railroad company. The ac- 
cepted sentence of political .extinction was its hostility. There 
were, to be sure, individuals who successfully maintained their 
independence in public life, and there had been, for three years 
prior to the crusade of 1910, an organized opposition known as 
the Lincoln-Roosevelt League, which had achieved partial vic- 
tory in 1908 and had obtained from the Legislature in 1909 an 
imperfect direct primary law. 

This league, in the Spring of 1910, called on Hiram Johnson 
to accept its indorsement as candidate for the Republican nomi- 
nation for Governor. Johnson had already made a brilliant 
reputation as a lawyer in Sacramento and in San Francisco, 
and he had attracted State-wide attention by his conduct on the 

San Francisco graft prosecutions. Associated with the prosecu- 
tions for a short time in the beginning, he had publicly with- 
drawn from his employment, at the time of the campaign for 
re-ejection of the Langdon-IJency administration of the District 
Attorney's office, in order to enter into the campaign free of the 
suspicions of personal interest. Afterward, wjieii Francis J. 
Heney was being worn to the breaking point by the strain of 
fighting a dozen lawyers at once, each chosen for his talents IP. a 
particular sort of legal obstruction, Johnson was repeatedly 
urged by the League of Justice to take up part of the burden and 
name his own fee, but he felt himself obligated by this public 
statement to persist in his refusal. Matt I. Sullivan was making 
a final appeal and had just received final refusal, when the news 
came that Heney had been shot down in open court. 

"That settles it," said Johnson. "I don't want any fee; I will 
take the case with you, Sullivan, and we will finish Heney' s work 
for him." 

And they did it with such success that Abe Reuf, arch-grafter 
of California, was convicted and is now in the penitentiary. 

The qualities shown in this service, the remarkable cam- 
paigning ability developed in the two elections for the rescue of 
San Francisco from the grafter, and the fact that he was the one 
man connected with the graft-crusade whose personal popularity 
even the poisoned press of San Francisco bad never been able to 
affect, marked Hiram Johnson as the one man best equipped for 
the larger campaign of redeeming the State. But again he was 
reluctant; while he had alwa3 7 s been active in public affairs, John- 
son had acquired in his youth an invincible aversion to personal 
candidacy for pffice. Possibly the conviction that it was a for- 
lorn hope, in which some one must make the preliminary fight, 
but in which personality was impossible, was the strongest in- 
ducement in overcoming this aversion. At any rate, after a 
struggle, the dramatic intensity of which will never be forgotten 
by those who participated in it, he finally consented to "go to the 
bat." From that moment of final assent there was never any 

California is a State a thousand miles long. Most of it is in- 
accessible by railroad mountainous, with desert coast and in- 
terior plain. It is the most varied State topographically in the 
Union. The mere physical task of preaching a new crusade to 
sucji a State seemed almost insuperable. Johnson solved it by a 
seven months' automobile carnpaign, in which he travelled 
18,000 miles, speaking on an average of five times a day, mostly 
in the open air, and meeting the people face to face. In literally 
every hamlet and cross road, as well as in the towns and cities of 
California, the primary campaign was made on a single issue 
the overthrow of the Southern Pacific machine. At first tlicp* 
was little publicity beyond the local meetings, but fjnajly tttf' 

whole State was aroused, and even Johnson became convinced, 
as he put it, that "the revolution was on." From that time on 
he concluded every speech with the same sentence, the sentence 
that changed thp history of California. It was this: "Without 
vainglory or boasting, I say to you that I am going to be Gov- 
ernor of California, and when I am Governor, I am going to kick 
out of this Government William F. Herrin and f}ie Southern 
Pacific Railroad." 

A purely constructive campaign, so far, without a construct- 
ive policy in it; but it concentrated a crusade, and (Demonstrated 
a remarkable personality. The dominant note of Hiram John- 
son is sincerity. He is a remarkably magnetic speaker pf the 
downright fighting type. In the highest places, among ttje na- 
tion's greatest orators, he leaves an impression which stands 
out permanently in the memory. TJic same impression he left 
on the hustings of California the feeling "This man means it, 
arid can be trusted to do it." It is a quality, not merely of 
oratory, but of the man. 

Harris Wejnstock, one of the most eminent citjzens of Cali- 
fornia, says: "I have known Hiram Johnson intimately since he 
was a baby. I have seen him under every moral test which a 
man or a boy can face, and I have never known him to fail to 
rise to the full measure of every test." 

This immediately recognized sincerity of character, re- 
flected in speech, made the simple crusade of a single promise 
the most remarkable political revival ever known in the West. 
A magazine writer has described Johpson as "a political revival- 
ist;" another writer, that he saw in Johnson's meetings in the 
California campaign, "a moral fervor, fusing t^c assemblies into 
almost a spiritual frenz} T , for a second a mass phenprnenpn 
I have rarely, if ever, witnessed outside of religious meetings." 

A "political revivalist" conducting a campaign on the single 
destructive issue of "kicking pqt" one man and his henchmen 
is scarcely the type from which to expect constructive states- 
manship. But Governor Johnson's record in this respect has 
jiecn no less remarkable than liis achievement as a campaigner. 
Johnson was nominated at the primary by a triumphant vote. 
The Lincoln-Roosevelt League became the regular Republican 
organization of the State. Its factional platform, a rnere declara- 
tion of war on the machine, was expanded as a party platform 
into probably the most comprehensive program of concrete re- 
forms ever embodied in a single State platform. Johnson made 
his campaign for election still on the "kicking out" issue, but 
also with the pledge that if a progressive governor and legislature 
were elected the definite pledges of the platform would be en- 
acted into law. He was elected by the largest majority ever 
given a candidate for Governor in California, and within four 
months of the day of Ids inauguration every pledge pf his rad- 

ically comprehensive platform was either enacted into law or 
submitted to the people as a constitutional amendment. The 
amendments were passed, an extra session of the Legislature; 
enacted the necessary supplementary laws, and within one year 
of the inauguration every pledge of the platform was actually 
operative in law. It was the complete governmental transfor- 
mation in the shortest time ever known in an American State. 
M. Oster, the French publicist, described it as the only example 
he knew of in the history of the English-speaking world in which 
governmental reform was accomplished with what he patriot- 
ically described as "French thoroughness." 

From the most boss-ridden to the most progressive State in 
the Union, governmsntal California was transformed in a single 
year, and the crusade of California is now being preached to the 
Nation. The doctrine of California is the aspiration of the 
Nation. The platform had called for the initiative, referendum 
and recall, the direct election of Senators, a shorter ballot, the 
simplification of the primary law, the abolition of the "party 
circle" on the ballot and the non-partisan nomination of judges, 
women's suffrage, county home rule, simplified criminal pro- 
cedure, prison reform, non-partisanship in appointments, busi- 
ness administrative reforms, conservation legislation, the ex- 
tension of the powers of the railroad commission, a public ser- 
vice commission and a workmen's compensation act. 

Surely an ambitious program for a single session of the 
Legislature less than three months in length. Yet all these 
things were passed, as well as a considerable amount of social 
legislation not in the platform, including an eight-hour law for 
women and a local option law. Theodore Roosevelt referred 
to it at the time as "the most comprehensive program of con- 
structive legislation ever enacted at a single session of the Legis- 
lature of any American State." 

The most powerful single force in making this legislative 
record was Governor Johnson's inaugural address, in which he 
broke all precedent by agreeing to do as Governor exactly what 
he had promised to do as candidate. Administratively, the pub- 
lic's faith was also kept. The old machine and its henchmen 
were ousted, graft was unearthed and eradicated, economy and 
efficiency secured, the prisons, reformatory and charitable in- 
stitutions put on a far better basis, and, in short, a new era was 
established of government for the people, instead of for the 

This is but a skeleton sketch of only two years of Governor 
Johnson's career, but they are the two years into which the prep- 
aration and the qualifications of all the rest have gone. Born in 
Sacramento, forty-five years ago, Hiram Johnson attended the 
public schools and the State University, and practiced law with 
brilliant success, first in Sacramento and then in San Francisco, 

He was generally known as the best trial lawyer in California. 
He lives in a beautiful home on top of Russian Hill in San Fran- 
cisco, set on the summit of a literal cliff, up which one clambers 
by zigzag stairways set against the rock. From the windows 
or from the terraced Italian garden, which Mrs. Johnson with 
infinite patience has caused to grow on top of that rocky cliff, 
one looks down on San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate, and 
across to Mt. Tamalpais and the shore opposite. There is no 
finer view in the world. The Johnsons have two vigorous Amer- 
ican boys, both of whom are the chums of their parents. It is 
a pleasanter life than the whirl of politics can offer, and one does 
not wonder that both the Governor and Mrs. Johnson prefer it. 

Success has not turned the head of Governor Johnson. He 
is unaffectedly democratic, and hates snobbery and show; even 
his meteoric rise to fame he takes humbly, as a responsibility 
and an opportunity for service. But a personality so unique 
cannot be confined. The whole nation now knows of Governor 
Johnson, representatives of every State have seen and have 
heard him at the National Convention this Summer, and tested 
his mettle. The whole nation will hear him soon and will doubt- 
less come as much under the spell of his winning personality as 
California has. And the nation will approve the unanimous 
judgment of the convention that Hiram W. Johnson is the one 
man in all America best fitted to preach, with Theodore Roose- 
velt, the new doctrine of popular rule. 

Perhaps the finest tribute to Governor Johnson that has ap- 
peared was in the speech of acceptance of Theodore Roosevelt 
when he and Johnson faced the cheering thousands at the Chi- 
cago Convention. The moment after their nomination Colonel 
Roosevelt said: 

"I have a peculiar feeling toward Governor Johnson. Nearly 
two years ago after the election of 1910 when what I had striven 
to accomplish in New York had come to nothing, and when my 
friends the enemy exulted possibly prematurely over what 
had befallen me, Governor Johnson, in the flush of his own 
triumph, having just won out, wrote me a letter, which I shall 
hand on to my children, and children's children because of what 
the letter contains, and because of the man who wrote it; a letter 
of trust and belief, a letter of ardent championship from the sol- 
dier who was at that moment victorious, toward his comrade 
who at that moment had been struck down. In Governor John- 
son we have a man whose every word is made good by the deeds 
that he has done. A man, who as the head of a great State has 
practically applied in that State for the benefit of the people of 
that State the principles which w r e intend to apply throughout 
the Union as a whole. We have nominated the only type of 
man who ever ought to be nominated for the Vice-Presidency; 
we have nominated a man fit at the moment to be President of 
the United States." 



Hollinger Corp.